Faith Matters: God is not Google: God’s gifts require patience in an often impatient world

The Rev. Cindy LaJoy at the Athol Congregational Church.

The Rev. Cindy LaJoy at the Athol Congregational Church. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By THE REV. CINDY LAJOY

Outreach Pastor, Athol Congregational Church, UCC

Published: 02-02-2024 12:03 PM

Have you ever wondered why God sometimes leads us on what seems like a long and winding road, just to end up mere steps from where you started? Have you ever asked God to answer your prayers in a hurry, only to find yourself waiting for a response for years? Have you ever wished God would just hurry up?!

Every single one of us has, at one time or another, found ourselves antsy as we awaited God’s leading in our lives. We grow weary of waiting, and we want our answers now! If God controls the universe, if God created everything, why can’t we just receive the necessary information as soon as possible? After all, we can type a question into our web browser and receive tens of thousands of potential answers in less than a second! So if Google can do it, why can’t God?

Thankfully, Google and God may begin with the same letter of the alphabet, but that is where the similarities end. Google simply transmits information to us, but it has no interest whatsoever in who is doing the asking. God, on the other hand, takes great interest in our lives, in the ways we interact with others and the world around us, and in the state of our heart.

Where Google merely spits out data gathered from millions of resources, God wants to nurture us.

While Google tells us what we should see, God points us in the right direction and allows us to process what we see and come to our own conclusions, just as any terrific educator would do.

Processing what we witness and discerning what it means for our lives takes time. Not minutes, but weeks, months, sometimes even years.

Think back to the things you believed to be absolutely true when you were a teen. Do you still feel that sense of certitude? Or has time taught you to see things from a different perspective?

God wants us to build our ability to persevere, for life is hard and having the stamina to delay gratification and stick to tasks we commit to helps us grow stronger in every aspect of our lives. Taking the time to carefully evaluate information and signs from the Divine in our lives teaches us to value the process and the mental space it provides us to consider as many alternatives as possible, and that strengthens our resolve when we finally come to a firm conclusion. Considered thoughts are always better than pressured conclusions. So sometimes when our patience runs thin, that is the very area of our life we need to work on, and God provides the opportunity!

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Taking the long road also leads to humility. It is hard to be arrogant when we are humbled by the amount of time something is taking. When success comes too swiftly we can tend to think we accomplished our goals all by ourselves with little help. When we are walking through a slow slog toward a goal, it requires us to dig deep, to toss our ego aside, and to ask for help from both God and our fellow human beings. Climbing our way toward the mountaintop with slow, methodical steps also allows us to stop, breathe deeply for a moment, and be thankful for each step that leads us closer to the summit. If answers come too quickly we are tempted to elevate our own efforts, where slower success offers us the chance for self-reflection and encourages us to see those who are helping us along the way.

You know what else? We also don’t have a clue what else is working in concert with our goals. Perhaps the person we have long desired is working to bring a better version of themselves to you, and they need time to mature. Maybe the long-held dream of the perfect career awaits you, but the right supervisor needs to be promoted first so that you have the best support to be well-trained and succeed. It could be that the house you have yearned to close the deal on actually has some expensive issues to be resolved, and your impatience for the home inspection could lead to big financial losses. Many of us ask, “Why can’t I have my answer now?” and we never consider all that is going on behind the scenes to smooth the path ahead.

God’s timing is usually not our preference, for we humans are an impatient lot. When we find it almost impossible to wait for a response to our prayers, when it all feels like it is taking much longer than it should, stop for a moment and ask yourself, “What is being prepared for me?” or “What am I being prepared for?” Then, consider how ruinous a rushed alternative has the potential to be. Thankfully, God imposes a different timeline on us, and that can be a true gift.

Athol Congregational Church UCC is a local community of faith that is “small enough to know you, large enough to serve.” We are currently celebrating in-person worship as well as offering Facebook livestream services under “Athol Congregational.” Our pastor and our members are available for conversation on our Athol Congregational Church Facebook page, and through private messages, and we would love to connect! We offer long-distance Reiki through our certified practitioners, are willing to pray with you whatever your need, and want to know you, whoever you are! We are located at 1225 Chestnut Street, and can be reached at 978-249-6202.